EDISON, NJ -- The college admission landscape, like so many other things in the world of education, has been plagued by uncertainty since the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the United States and the world. The global health crisis has changed the rules on almost a daily basis and caused institutions of higher education to alter their procedures and safety protocols. Some colleges and universities have opted to begin the 2020-2021 academic year with remote learning only, while others have made significant changes to their calendars.

Wardlaw+Hartridge students in the graduating Class of 2020 have endured many disappointments and difficult times since the pandemic forced closure of schools in March and prompted a stay-at-home order for much of the time since their school’s Spring Break. They missed their final two months of in-person classes, saw their prom canceled and were not able to receive their diplomas and celebrate their graduation until the middle of July.

Although many W+H seniors are feeling the stress of what lies ahead as they make the transition to college life, they and their parents are thankful for the wonderful guidance they received from their school’s College Counseling Office. All 58 of the school’s 2020 graduates will be matriculating to a college or university. Many of the students and their parents credit Chris Teare, Director of College Counseling at Wardlaw+Hartridge, who has made quite an impact in just over a year on the job.

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“Chris Teare made it a point to get to know Kallie from the day he joined the school,” said Jen Schildge of Westfield, whose daughter, Kallie, will be attending Providence College. “He was patient and encouraged Kallie to discern what she really wanted from a college and helped her feel confident in her choices. Once Kallie finally had a short list to work with, Chris made us aware of the contacts and efforts he made with the schools on Kallie’s behalf.  It was evident that Chris had made personal connections with most of the admissions officers with whom he spoke and we were confident he was promoting Kallie as an attractive candidate for admission. Chris was easy to reach, easy to converse with, and encouraged Kallie to explore schools that were stretches as well as merely probable.” 

Ann Minnium of Scotch Plains, whose daughter, Judy, will be a freshman at Tulane University, agreed. Like Kallie, her daughter also applied early and received good news before the holidays.

“Mr. Teare knew Judy well and tried to help her and us in any way possible. He went above and beyond. We’re lucky to have him at W+H. He’s made an awesome addition to the school. He was instrumental every step of the way, identifying schools to apply to, editing the essays and completing and submitting the applications.”

“Not only did Mr. Teare get to know Judy well, but he helped Judy to know herself better and channel this knowledge into making good decisions about where she would fit in and excel,” added Peter Minnium, Judy’s father. “Mr. Teare took the time and energy to work with the kids to discover their various facets, many of which can be hidden in a rushed process. It's the composite of these facets that needs to "fit" with a college, and so it is quite important to get it right. We do feel that Judy ended up accepting admission to the right school and Mr. Teare helped her to gain the acceptance. The school was a stretch for Judy, but Mr. Teare helped her to focus on the aspects of her CV that would appeal to the university. He also made it clear that she needed to up her game in a few areas, which she did.”

Ryan Brace of Scotch Plains did not gain acceptance to his first choice via early decision, but his parents were grateful for the guidance he received at Wardlaw+Hartridge and credited the College Counseling Office with easing the friction within their family during the process. Ryan applied early action to his second choice and was accepted at the University of Michigan.

“Even though Mr. Teare was new, I was amazed at how quickly and how well he was able to assess Ryan's character, strengths and weaknesses, and how those aligned with the colleges he was interested in. Most importantly, he helped Ryan to present himself in the best possible light to colleges by being involved in helping him craft his essays and often seeking their input as to what was most important to them,” Tracy Brace said.

Karen Johnson of Piscataway also was effusive in her praise of Mr. Teare and the College Counseling Office. Her family endured a very difficult year with the passing of her husband, Lee, in December. She advocated the school’s dedication to beginning the conversation about college early in Upper School and appreciated how the college counselors alleviate the stress of a challenging process. Her daughter Sydney Johnson ’20 will be matriculating to Princeton University.

“My daughter and our family had the pleasure of working with Chris Teare, an experience that we would not trade. Although he came into his position during my daughter’s junior year, he truly took the time to learn everything he could about her. I believe that his commitment to understanding who she was inside and outside of the classroom helped him to go over and beyond for her as and advocate and a mentor. We are very grateful to him for all that he has done and we couldn’t have asked for more,” Karen Johnson said. 

W+H students also appreciated the guidance they received from their college counselors.

“Mr. Teare helped me make the right choice,” said Arun Lakshman of Westfield, who will be attending Georgetown University. “He understood who I am as a person and focused on all aspects of what I wanted out of college experience and went an extra mile by corresponding with the admissions officer at Georgetown and put forth a strong case for selecting me. His knowledge and connections with colleges helped me a lot.”

“The care and support Mr. Teare has given to me and my family to guide me through my college process from the beginning to the end has been the most quintessential element to my college decision process,” added Neha Mandalapu of Edison, who will be attending Northeastern University. “He always went the extra mile and strived for me to find the best institution that will allow me to successfully enable and prepare me for my future towards dental medicine.  Mr. Teare did everything with precision and patience as he thoroughly guided me and my family in this confusing college process. There are simply not enough words for me to describe the amount of dedication he has put in helping through my college process. My family and I thank him for the time and effort he put for me in making the best decision possible.”

The Wardlaw+Hartridge School (1295 Inman Ave., N. Edison) is Central Jersey’s premier PreK-12 independent school. The campus is located near the Scotch Plains border and just five miles from downtown Westfield. It is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational day school that prepares students to lead and succeed in a world of global interconnection. Wardlaw+Hartridge provides an educational atmosphere characterized by academic challenge, support for individual excellence, diversity, and a familial sense of community. To take a virtual tour of the school, visit www.WHschool.org/virtualtour.